The Boot reference article from the Simple Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Boot

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A boot is a tall or strong shoe used so your foot won't get wet or get hurt. Some boots are held on with bootstraps or bootlaces. Some also have spats or gaiters to keep water out. Most have a very strong bootsole, the bottom part of a boot.

Table of contents
1 to "bootstrap"
2 "to boot"
3 to "boot" a computer

to "bootstrap"

People used to make a joke by saying "to lift yourself up by your own bootstraps". This is actually impossible. Now to bootstrap is an idiom meaning "to use something simpler to get something more complex to make itself work better."

"to boot"

To boot is an idiom meaning also. An example: "he had a beer, and a whiskey to boot." Meaning he had both, and the whiskey after the beer. This is probably related to the bootstrap idiom.

to "boot" a computer

Now people use the word "boot" to mean "to start a computer" or other device with electronics built in. Most operating systems call the first device it uses a boot device. This is because the computer is making itself go, as in the idiom. When we start a computer, we can often see the simple instructions the computer uses to start, then more complicated pictures or software.

So "to boot" in this meaning is short for "to bootstrap". This use is part of net jargon along with similar multi-use words like net or web. Often the computer is just called a box, so a phrase like "to boot the box" means "to start the computer".